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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Tennessee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Nashville Man Sentenced To Federal Prison For Stealing Donations From Area Churches

Kenneth James Stopkotte, 49, of Nashville, Tenn., was sentenced yesterday by Senior U.S. District Court Judge William J. Haynes to serve 45 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, announced David Rivera, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.  Stopkotte was also ordered to pay restitution to the victims in the amount of $169,978.86.

Stopkotte was indicted on March 6, 2014, on charges of bank larceny, access device fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft and pleaded guilty in September 2014 to one count of bank larceny, one count of access device fraud and one count of money laundering.

In his plea agreement, Stopkotte admitted that between August 27, 2012, and February 28, 2013, he stole approximately $181,608.52 in donation checks from the mailboxes of numerous churches in the Nashville area, which he deposited into accounts that he controlled at SunTrust Bank, First Tennessee Bank, Regions Bank, the Bank of Nashville and the Navy Federal Credit Union.

Additionally, Stopkotte admitted to transferring approximately $70,000 of the stolen funds from these various bank accounts to an account that he controlled at USAA Federal Savings Bank, then laundering approximately $48,000 of the money by nine wire transfers of varying amounts into an account titled Black Marlin Industries located at the Federal Bank of the Middle East in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Finally, Stopkotte admitted that he used a credit card that had been issued to another person to charge approximately $13,631.45 in payments and other things of value.

In determining Stopkotte’s sentence, Judge Haynes applied enhancements for the number of victims and the use of sophisticated means on the money laundering count.  Judge Haynes ordered Stopkotte’s sentence to be served concurrently with a four year sentence that Stopkotte received in Williamson County, Tennessee, in a related case involving theft of checks from a church.

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Secret Service, the Murfreesboro, Tenn. Police Department, the Franklin, Tenn. Police Department, the Brentwood Tenn. Police Department and the Madeira, Ohio Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra G. Moses represented the United States.

Updated April 9, 2015